After a dreary and drab game of soccer in the group stages and the quarterfinals, the Copa America 2019 reaches the semi-finals with a scintillating match up between the two powerhouses of the footballing world and eternal rivals Brazil and Argentina. They play at the Belo Horizonte on Wednesday early morning ( 6 am as per Indian Standard Time). The quality of football has been disappointing till now and even home favorites Brazil struggled and were continuously booed in almost every outing, while Argentina barely escaped an early elimination with an unconvincing win over tournament minnows Qatar. So, Brazil vs Argentina- which team will come on top?
The winner of this electrifying Brazil vs Argentina semifinal tie will reach the final. Argentina is with fourteen continental titles and are just one behind Uruguay’s fifteen, but their last continental triumph came back in 1993. Brazil has won the competition on eight occasions. Brazil has played Argentina 110 times before in all competitions with the former winning on 44 occasions to the latter’s 39 wins. The last time the two teams met in Copa America was in 2007, where Brazil blanked Argentina by 3-0.
Let’s now quickly do a match preview and find out their team news, coach strategies, and likely team formations for this upcoming fixture.
Team News: Brazil are undefeated in their last fourteen encounters and managed to win eleven of those. The five-time World Champions scored three or more goals in three of the previous five games. Tite’s players kept sixteen clean sheets in their last twenty matches and hit the back of the nets in eighteen of these meetings. Yet, a Neymar-less Brazil looks far from convincing and has often been lackluster. Apart from their victories over Bolivia and Peru, Tite’s Brazil has been quite drab in their gameplay. Their midfield and attack has come under scanner time and again. Players like Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Filipe Luis, etc. have been inconsistent and far from convincing. They have narrowly scraped past a 10 man Paraguay side in tiebreakers in the quarter-finals. One relief for Tite would be the return of the suspended Casemiro in the midfield.
Strategy: It is unlikely that Tite would tweak his team combination and formation at this stage. He will stick with his 4-3-3 formation and try to attack more through the flanks and put pressure on Argentina’s weak defense. He has to have a strategy to disrupt Argentina’s compact and fluid attacking play and has to closely mark the opponent team’s number 10. The full-backs will also have their work cut out as they have to handle a lot of attack down the flanks. Tite should use a more experienced Willian in place of an inconsistent Everton on the left flank. Willian was outstanding in the last match, although Tite brought him on the 71st minute of the match. His marauding runs bamboozled Paraguay’s defense. His experience in big matches over an inexperienced Everton will also be crucial.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Brazil (4-3-3): Allison; Filippe Luis, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Dani Alves(C); Coutinho, Casemiro, Arthur;Gabriel Jesus,Roberto Firmino,Willian.
Team News: The 14 time Copa America champions had to wait till their last match against minnows Qatar to qualify for the knockouts. They were badly outplayed in the group stages by Colombia and narrowly escaped defeat to Paraguay as their 32-year-old River Plate goalkeeper Armani became an unlikely hero by saving a crucial penalty from Derlis Gonzalez. Interim coach Lionel Scaloni’s team selection has been questioned time and again. Lionel Messi has been relatively quiet in the tournament so far. He has just one penalty goal to his name. He has been far from his usual game. Other big guns like Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria are yet to pick up their game. The most vulnerable aspect of this Argentina side is their defense. The two center backs German Pezzella and Nicolas Otamendi has had a very poor tournament so far.
Strategy: Though in the last match against Venezuela, we saw a much more organized and free-flowing Argentina, Scaloni’s inconsistency in picking up the right team combination has hurt the team badly in the group stages. Argentina’s attack has been Messi centric in most of the occasions and hence it has been easy for their opponents to read Argentina’s playing pattern. In all, the group stage matches of Argentina, opponents have incessantly doubled or tripled up on Messi in order to disrupt his game and nullify Argentina’s attacks. Scaloni has to have a plan B in order to get the better of Brazil. Argentina’s midfield has to improve on their ball possession and create more balls in the final third for Messi and Aguero. Inter’s 21-year-old Lautaro Martinez has been a revelation in this tournament. He has opened the scoring in the second game running for Argentina.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Argentina (4-3-1-2): Armani; Tagliafico, Nicolas Otamendi, Pezzella, Foyth; Marcos Acuna, Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul; Lionel Messi(C) ; Sergio Aguero, Martinez .
The predicted scoreline of Brazil vs Argentina: 2 – 1